Iron Curtain – The Crushing of Eastern EuropeFriday, 24 January 2014
The subtitle of Anne Applebaum’s fascinating, but terribly depressing, tale tells it all. In the period from 1944, the year before the final collapse of Nazi Germany, to 1956, the year of the Hungarian Revolution, the Soviet Union truly did crush Eastern Europe.
After 1956 a slightly different pattern was followed, but the story was essentially the same for another three decades until finally the Soviet Union collapsed, the Berlin Wall came down and normal life in Eastern Europe resumed. In between it was simply grey and dismal. Anna Funder follows much the same story in her gripping Stasiland. It was the sheer mundanity of much of the Stasi activities in the old East Germany which was so appalling, Iron Curtain simply underlines how bad it was in the whole Russian controlled region. Life in East Germany was pretty awful if you didn’t play ball with the Communist party, but it was even worse in other parts of the old Eastern Europe.